Brian Hannant’s “The Time Guardian” is about as vintage straight to video science fiction as it can get. It’s a low budget, serviceable genre entry with a hodgepodge of (what feel like) recycled concepts that never quite gel together, and sadly never comes together even by the time the climax rolls around. It’s “Back to the Future,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Star Wars,” and “Terminator” all rolled in to one big Ozploitation mélange. At its best it’s only kind of charming in fleeting moments; at its worst, it’s absolutely dull late night cable fodder.
From the year 4039, the last survivors of humanity fight a desperate rearguard war, travelling back and forward across time in a city that is protected by a force field. All the while, they are pursued by the Jen-Diki, an alien cyborg race that is determined to eliminate humanity. The soldier Ballard and his partner Petra go ahead to prepare the way for the city’s landing in the Australian Outback in 1988. Local geologist Annie Lassiter comes to the pair’s aid as they tries to deal with both sadistic small town police and Jen-Diki advance troops.
Carrie Fisher (one of the only two American actors cast) has a handful of scenes thrown in as a supporting character, but she’s mostly there for genre cred and doesn’t have much of a huge effect on the narrative. There’s also Dean Stockwell who is given some scenes to help further the movie along with some clunky exposition, but he’s absolutely wasted. “The Time Guardian” is based a lot around the fish out of water trope with characters displaced from their own time, fighting a sentient menace, and of course there’s the omnipotent army of powerful robots that threaten humanity. Director Hannant obviously doesn’t have enough budget to drop us in to this dystopia for long, so he sets about ninety percent of the film in contemporary Australia.
The killer robots, the Jen-Diki, are well designed, if occasionally awkward, and resembling something out of the original “Battlestar Galactica.” The film is centers mainly on Tom Burlison’s hero Ballard, and his twentieth century squeeze Anna, as played by the lovely Nikki Coghill. There’s central focus on their relationship and obvious romantic tension, all the while Fisher is relegated to more of a feature player who helps push the movie to the finish line. Director Hannant does a decent enough job delivering on what is a pretty basic eighties sci-fi entry in the realm of “Solarbabies,” “Ice Pirates,” “Alienator.” You might find yourself wishing you were watching something much better, but you won’t regret experiencing it.
The Blu-Ray from Kino includes two original trailers for “The Time Guardian,” and bonus trailers for The Time Travelers, Rollerball, Eye Of The Tiger and Trackdown.